Wouldn’t you love a great outdoor kitchen?

Outdoor Kitchen The recent sunshine and warmer temperatures throughout the Washington DC area, remind us that we’ll soon be able to enjoy pool parties, picnics, and of course, backyard BBQ’s with family and friends. If you’re thinking about incorporating the convenience of an outdoor kitchen into your backyard, listed below are some helpful tips to consider.

To Cover or Not to Cover

When creating an outdoor kitchen, one of the first things to consider is whether or not to have the space covered. Unless covered, you should expect to experience significantly more wear and tear on your surfaces and appliances than if under some form of protection. If you still want an airy feeling, one great option is to have a wooden pergola built with a clear cover, such as Lexan or fiberglass, over top of the structure. This barely visible ceiling offers protection, but still gives the area an open-air feeling at the same time.

Choosing a Countertop

Granite and other types of natural stone are common choices when designing an outdoor kitchen area, not only for their durability, but also for their beauty. It is strongly recommended, however, that most natural stone tops be sealed to prevent staining. If staining is a concern, one should probably avoid marble and limestone surfaces, as these are more porous stones and, therefore, more likely to stain. Other choices for hard natural stone counter surfaces are flagstone and slate, which hide stains and dirt well, and look nice with a flamed finish. For a more maintenance-free option consider using a natural quartz surface, such as Silestone or CaesarStone. Also, don’t forget to choose a decking or patio material that is grease resistant as well.

Appliances and Accessories

When planning an outdoor kitchen think carefully about what you’ll use most in your space versus what would just be convenient. Having an icemaker at your fingertips sounds practical, especially when whipping up those frozen margaritas and daiquiris on hot summer days, but they can often be temperamental given their year-round exposure to the elements. In the long run, you may find that installing and maintaining an outdoor icemaker is more of a hassle than it’s worth. In that case, a drop-in insulated ice chest, a decorative vessel or your ol’ reliable cooler might serve you better. When adding an outdoor refrigerator, it is important that you choose the location carefully. Often times, if placed in direct sunlight, homeowners find the unit is unable to hold the proper temperature. Outdoor sinks are another “nice to have,” but consider how much you will be using it before installing one. Maintenance can be an issue as sinks need to be winterized annually, and they often weather and lose their luster easily. For most outdoor kitchens, the grill is the main focal point and one size does not fit all. Whether you’re an occasional burger flipper, serious gourmet or BBQ battle champion, there is a size, type and accessory configuration that is perfect for your needs. Rotisserie attachments are popular in gas units, and side burners are handy for cooking corn on the cob or steaming crabs. Remember to use an appropriate cover to protect your grill when not in use and over the winter months. And, for all outdoor appliances, stainless steel is the best material as it is the most durable and rust-resistant option.

Create a Comfortable Entertaining Space

Help to extend the seasonal life of your outdoor kitchen by placing natural gas or propane patio heaters in the area for chilly summer evenings and as the weather begins to cool. Also, don’t forget to include adequate lighting for after-dark cooking and entertaining. Have plentiful seating close enough to the grill to work in tandem with it, but be sure that the smoke does not waft over the dining area. Consider adding an outdoor television and audio system so you can take in the big game or listen to whatever your heart desires as you and your guests enjoy your backyard oasis. A residential design build contractor can help you create a design that compliments the existing surroundings or help you to create a gourmet kitchen as part of a complete outdoor renovation.